Toshiaki Imae (39), the current Rakuden Golden Eagles second-team hitting coach who contributed to Japan’s victory in the 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC), recalled the nightmare of the Korea-Japan match.
Japanese media ‘Sponichi Annex’ reported on the 27th that Coach Imae recently appeared on a Tokyo TV program and looked back on the experience of going back and forth between hell and heaven at the 2006 WBC.
After making a big success with Chiba Lotte in the 2005 season with a batting average of 0.310, 8 home runs and 71 RBIs, Imae led the team to the championship by wielding a batting average of 0.667 including 8 consecutive hits in the Japan Series. Lee Seung-yeop (47), the current Doosan coach who was a member of Chiba Lotte at the time, hit 3 homers in 4 games in the Japan Series, but failed to win the series MVP because he was beaten in the forehead.
Imae was proudly named in the final entry for the 2006 WBC with great momentum, but he failed to win the starting third baseman spot. He played most of the tournament in the position of backup, being pushed back by Akinori Iwamura (44), who was the best third baseman in Japan at the time.
The opportunity came to Imae in the match against Korea in the third round of the second round of the finals held in Anaheim, USA. Iwamura, who started as the starting third baseman, suffered a knee injury during a base play in the bottom of the second inning, and Imae was put into heavy defense from the beginning of the third inning.
Imae made a fatal mistake during defense in the top of the 8th inning, where the score was 0-0. In Korea, Lee Byeong-gyu (49) scored a heavy hit in the 1st out and 1st base, but Kim Min-jae (50), the runner at 1st base, ran from 2nd to 3rd, and was in danger of running. Since Japanese center fielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo (47)’s throw to third base was so accurate, there was no doubt that it was 100% out in terms of timing.
However, in the forehead, he could not properly tag Kim Min-jae, who rushed to the 3rd base with a head-first sliding. The ball came out of Imae’s glove, and the third base umpire declared safe.
After Korea’s revival, one of the best scenes in Korean baseball history was born. Lee Jong-beom (53) hit Japan’s best fastball pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa (43) with a two-run double through left-center to make the score 2-0. 메이저놀이터
In Korea, Koo Dae-seong (54) allowed a solo home run to Tsuyoshi Nishioka (39) at the bottom of the ninth inning, but Oh Seung-hwan (41), who took the mound with one out and first base, struck out Takahiro Arai (46) and Hitoshi Tamura (47) in succession. turned around and destroyed Japan.
Imae recalled that time and explained, “After the game against Korea at that time, Norichikawa Aoki and Munenori Kawasaki invited me to dinner and comforted me a little.” did.
Japan was on the brink of elimination with 1 win and 2 losses in the second round, but the U.S. was caught by Mexico following Korea, and a reversal occurred with Japan tied with 1 win and 2 losses. After advancing to the semifinals with a difference in run percentage, he defeated Korea in the semifinals and Cuba in the final to become the first WBC champion. Imae relieved a little of the burden on her mind about her mistake in the game against Korea by knocking out a hit at the right time in the final match.
“I thought I could go home to Japan after we won,” Imae said. “I didn’t feel alive at the time, but now it’s a good lesson. The important thing is the desire to recover from mistakes.”